FOUR local sailors are gearing up for the biggest event of their competitive sailing careers so far as they prepare to represent Great Britain at the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championships.
Hayling Island Sailing Club’s Owen Bowerman (29er), Jess Eales (SL16 Catamaran) and James Taylor – who will team up with Warsash SC’s Tim Riley in the 420 Class – have all been selected for the prestigious event.
And all four aspiring, young Olympians fly out to Portugal next week ahead of the championships, which kick-off next Saturday.
Over 365 of the world’s top Olympic hopefuls of the future, representing 63 nations, are set to converge on Portugal’s Clube Náutico de Tavira, located on the west side of the Algarve, for the eight-day regatta.
Multiple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie is among the many high-profile Brits who have represented their country at the prestigious under-19 event.
The local sailors won selection for Britain following their gold medal-winning performances at the RYA Youth National Championships in Weymouth and Portland in April.
Bowerman will be making his event debut with Morgan Peach in the 29er class.
Having just completed his A-Levels at Havant College, Bowerman said: ‘It has always been a goal to qualify for the ISAF youth worlds and it is a real privilege to be selected to join the British Youth Sailing Team this year.
‘I am extremely excited for the week in Portugal. There will be some great competition and I’m looking forward to competing against the best 29er sailors from around the world.
‘This is my final year in the 29er and I would like to use my experience from the last few years in the class and really try and push the results board for a medal.
‘The competition will be tough but I’m lucky to have good sailors in Britain to race against so I can be ready for the high standard of racing expected out in Portugal.’
Joining Bowerman and Peach on their event debuts will be Eales, SL16 crew for Eastbourne’s Oli Greber – who won a bronze medal at the 2013 worlds in Limassol, Cyprus.
Eales said: ‘I’ve never had an opportunity quite like this where I will be competing against the finest and most credible sailors from each nation.
‘It is guaranteed to be an incredibly challenging and testing event.
‘In terms of conditions, it’s definitely going to be hot, so they impose a challenge to overcome.
‘It’s also a sea breeze venue, which should work to our advantage as we’re expecting to be one of the heavier teams out there, so decent wind strength will be beneficial to us.’
There are a maximum of 13 races scheduled for the five Youth classes at the Clube Náutico de Tavira.
The opening race of the regatta is on Monday, July 14, with the medals due to be decided on Friday, July 18.